If you’ve ever had the pleasure of owning one of these dogs, you know they can be tremendously fun, active, intelligent, eager to please and the best lap warmers around. As with many breeds – especially terriers – these traits require a responsible owner who will channel their intelligence and energy into training and positive socialization.

Known for their intelligence and loyalty, pit bulls make excellent companions and are devoted to their people. They crave love and affection from their owners, and prefer to be involved in daily activities. Being extremely people oriented, they often prefer their owners attention to the company of other dogs.

In general, they are known to be confident and outgoing. Their strong bodies and minds often get the best of them, and can be known to be impervious to pain, say after running into a tree in the way of a ball. They are active, very athletic dogs that excel at dog sports, obedience, and enjoy the outdoors. On the flipside, they can be serious sofa loungers, and quite content indoors, who don’t mind a good sleep in on a Sunday morning!

Health and Behavioural Issues

Overall, pit bulls have few health issues and are considered one of the more healthy breeds for genetic diseases. However, the more common problems found within these breeds are:

  • Allergies – primarily skin and food related.
  • Mange – usually a sign of lowered immune system.
  • Parvo – again a lower immunity issue and usually a bigger threat to unvaccinated dogs.
  • Ligament tears – due to the breed’s enthusiasm and vigour for life and action, their physical activities can sometimes result in these.

Being so bonded with their owners, they do sometimes suffer from separation anxiety, which manifests into destructive chewing, or vocalization, usually caused by a lack of exercise and frustration from boredom.

Temperament

Their natural temperament should always be extremely loving towards people. Human aggression is not considered part of this breed, and can be attributed to unscrupulous over breeding. A typical pit bull should always welcome a human with a wagging tail and a warm heart, and generally they make lousy guard dogs because of this innate love for people.

Aggression Towards Animals

Understanding animal aggression in this breed is a crucial part of successful ownership. Many dogs have some level of prey drive, and aggression towards cats, dogs, or small animals is seen in all breeds. Because terrier breeds, and definitely pit bulls, were bred specifically to consider animals as prey, this is definitely a trait to be aware of.

It is a common misconception to believe that dog sociability is all in the way they dogs are raised. While training, socialization and good loving care will definitely produce an overall better dog, there are pit bulls that range from dog-social to dog-aggressive. Sometimes dog aggression trait emerges early, and some dogs mature into it as they reach adulthood around two to three years of age. Aggression can absolutely be managed with effective ownership, but anyone considering owning one of these dogs should be aware of this possibility.

Please understand that human aggression and animal aggression are two totally SEPARATE things, and one does not translate into the other in the dog world. We often hear people remark that a dog who bites a dog today will bite a child tomorrow. It is absolutely not true, and one of the biggest myths that surround this breed today.

Care, Training and Exercise

Pit bulls are wash and wear dogs at their finest! A quick towel rub and a weekly brush is usually all they require. Bathe only when necessary, clean ears and keep nails trimmed, and enjoy a pet with minimal shedding.

They require daily exercise, and depending on the dog, not having enough can potentially lead to behavioural issues.

Early training and socialization is a must. Due to their tenacious nature, a fair but firm owner will be the best match for this breed. Although these dogs tend to be physically strong, they generally do not respond well to harsh training methods as emotionally they are very sensitive. This tends to be one of the ongoing challenges in finding a happy medium in effectively training them. On the upside, they are incredibly bright and generally perform at the top of their obedience classes.

Average Life Span

12 to 14 years